On the morning of Israel’s independence day I rushed with my son Noam (9) to the Tel Aviv beach as we wanted to watch the annual aerial formations of the Israeli air force over the Mediterranean. We walked through the playground with the shelter in its midst, passed the busy road near the car rental company, and started to go down the ramp leading up to the boardwalk and the beach. All around us there were people from all over the world showing of their Jewish and Israeli pride and independence with blue and white hats, horns, shirts, chains and what not. I am not a man of national pride, but….
….A short time after our arrival I got a news alert from Paris about Sarah Halimi. It is important to write about Halimi in the midst of this Jewish-Israeli demonstration of power. Halimi was a 65-year-old retired physician who was murdered on April 4, 2017 in her apartment in Bellville, Paris. she was murdered only because she was a Jew, and it seems like the French authorities are not going to let her even rest in peace
This is the story behind her murder: Kobili Traoré, then 27, a Muslim immigrant from Mali and a neighbor of Halimi, smoked some Cannabis, and then gained an access to the apartment next to his. The residents of this apartment hid in their bedroom and locked the door. Traoré started to shout vices from the Koran and promised that he is going to kill the Satan. Some people consume Cannabis and feel like creating art, some get hungry, others dive deeply into thoughts or feel haunted. Some people get an appetite to kill Jews.
The people in hiding called the police. The police arrived to the wrong building. Traoré climbed through the balcony to Halimi’s apartment. She lives on the third floor and she is the only Jewish resident in the building. The police arrives to the correct building but the dispatcher asks them not to intervene: it is possibly a terror incident and they should wait for the special unit.
The police forces are outside the door when they hear Traoré, under the poisonous mixture of Cannabis and Koran, beating Halimi to death while she is desperately screaming for help. In his eyes, a 65-year-old retired physician is the embodiment of Satan. After beating her to death, Traoré pulls her to the window and throws her down. He goes back to the apartment that he came from, declares that he killed the Satan and shouts „Allahu Akbar“.
The investigative judge in charge of the investigation rejected an initial psychiatric report claiming that Traoré was responsible and aware of his actions, and accepted a second evaluation that exempted Traoré from his responsibility due to the fact that he consumed drugs before the murder. So we are supposed to believe that a man who is not aware of his actions was looking for the only Jewish resident in the building, climbs through the balcony to the third floor of the building (if you were ever stoned you understand how not probable that is), murder the woman, throw her out of the window, and then brags about the fact that he killed Satan. All of that without being aware of what he was doing.
Moreover, the investigative judge declared that the murder lacks an anti-Semitic motive and announced that it is her duty to protect Traoré from the „hostility of the Jewish community“ that was pushing for justice for Halimi. I guess that if the investigation was ongoing, this judge would have find that Halimi jumped to her death. 11 months after Halimi’s murder, two young men got into the apartment of Mireille Knoll not far way from the place where Halimi was murdered. They stabbed the 85-year-old Holocaust survivor eleven times and burned her body.
The news alert I got on the beach announced that the Court of Cassation, the final court of appeal in France, had rejected Halimi’s lawyers’ demand that Traoré will stand trial. French tax paying money will help him to recover from his addiction to drugs and his stay at a psychiatric ward. At some point he will return to the French society. Who cares for Sarah Halimi?
Many Israelis in Berlin are justifying violence against Jews and Israelis abroad, blaming Israel’s policy as its cause. It is getting harder and harder to wear a kippah or other Jewish symbols or to speak Hebrew in public in Germany and other European countries. A judge in Germany gave three suspects reduced penalty after they claimed that their crime, burning a synagogue, was not of anti-Semitic motives but a protest against Israeli policy. A judge in Sweden withheld a deportation of an illegal immigrant from Palestine back to his country after he was found guilty of burning down a synagogue. The Judge’s reasoning was that if he will send back the poor guy to Palestine, the Israeli secret forces will go after him. Only a dumb country like Sweden can spend its tax paying money to protect a criminal and illegal immigrant from a law abiding country (and be naïve enough to think that the long arms of the Israeli secret forces can’t get to him)….
….At the beach Noam asked me how come there are so many David Stern around him and how come no one hides his kippah. Four jet planes made out a beautiful formation in the sky and then dove toward the people only to pick their noses up in last minute toward the clear skies. Everyone was clapping like crazy, in a mix of pride and a notion of „here, no one will tell us what to do, what to wear and how to speak“. There was a real sense of independence.
I let go of the years-old string stopping me for being proud of who I am and I started humming Jewish spiritual songs in Hebrew. I thought that I came to Israel to get vaccinated, and I found out that I came here to expose my son to the fact that he is another chain in a thousands-years-long link, and that there is one place, only one, that he can be whoever he wants to be without fear or shame.